ZORBAS maintaining vibrancy

FULL HOUSE—Zorbas Restaurant was a buzz of activity as customers flocked to that popular eatery after it reopened its doors. (PHOTO: JENNEVA RUSSELL)

Grand Bahama’s very own Zorbas Greek Cuisine maintains its status as a favourite spot in the Port Lucaya Marketplace.

Its flavourful Bahamian cooked food and tasty pastries have continued to attract locals and visitors despite the economic shift, since the passing of Hurricane Dorian which made landfall on the island, September 1.

Owner Nick Vikatos spoke with this news daily recently and noted that the steadiness of his clientele is due to consistency of quality service, led to “the sustainability of management.”

“Since its reopening, there is some sort of normalcy, but plenty other businesses have been affected by Dorian and they are not open. About 50 percent of the marketplace is open. Some places got damaged and they are working on some of the stores to open up, but everyone is just looking for some sort of normalcy.

“For the conditions we are in, sales or not bad. Plenty people are not working, not many tourists are on the island, but there are still many non-governmental organizations’ (NGO’s) representatives here. We have a lot of charity groups and we also have a lot of adjusters and that is what keeps us going right now, until the signing of the hotel which is hopefully very soon.

“Everybody still has hope that the heads of agreement for the hotel is going to be signed soon, so were really holding on to that.

“It’s a struggle sometimes, but some days are better, so there is a balance at the end of the day.

“There has to also be consistency because consistency is the key. After people get used to something, with all these cooks, everything has to be consistent. If someone is used to something and you change it, they would tell you about it. They are already used to what they were getting.

“Quality and consistency is the biggest thing in keeping these places open.

“Zorbas started off as a Greek restaurant with four employees in 1992 in one spot. Now we took over five spots which is the whole block and it has 56 employees,” informed the entrepreneur.   

He spoke about the concept of having a different brand and also a focus on the local market. There is a special concentration on coffee and pastries.

“In addition, when I go to vacations in Greece, I always have iced coffee and a pastry.

“There was no place over here where you can get iced coffee, freddo or freddo cappuccino, freddo expresso, and that’s ice cappuccino and ice expresso,” explained Vikatos.

What evolved was one spot just for coffee and the other side for pastries. There is strictly European pastries and Zorbas also offers Bahamian pastries.

“We bought a pastry chef in from Greece and that’s how we started. We also brought in a barista from Greece to train for about three months to specialize in the freddo expresso and cappuccinos because the Americans like Starbucks. We have that too, but freddo expresso is cold expresso, freddo cappuccino is cold cappuccino, so we just wanted something different,” Vikatos further divulged.

About the island itself, he touched on the scenario as observed, following Hurricane Dorian. Vikatos expressed hope that other businesses would be able to persevere just as Zorbas has, and that there would be many other positive developments to make the island more economically bullish.

“Hurricane Dorian has pushed the economy back years and that’s how I look at it.

“Do I think it’s going to come back? Yes, I do. If you look at the signing of the Heads of Agreement for Royal Caribbean, the medical school that they just signed for and when they sign the hotel and the harbour deals, I think people will start coming back just for jobs.

“There are a lot of people that moved from Freeport, but there is a chance they would come back because this is their home. The only challenge in Freeport is housing. People can’t find places to live, especially all the people who got damages. It’s a struggle, but everybody is optimistic and plenty people haven’t given up. They still have hope” he maintained.

Vikatos said his employees were excited to return and he expressed satisfaction that Zorbas has participated in the islands’ recovery through breakfast and lunch distributions.

“As I always tell all my staff, ‘thank God for locals.’”

“Locals are here year-round. Tourists are a bonus for us,” he said.

Zorbas, also, is very much involved in assisting those in need of meals, and, can’t afford to purchase them.

“Every other day we would cook about 125 meals and give them out to people that were seriously affected by the hurricane, and who still don’t have power.

“I would bring in extra staff and we would carry out about 100 meals throughout the communities.

“As we continue, we are excited to serve the Bahamian market and we are grateful for their support over the years. Owning a business is not always easy, but the consistency has been tremendous and we look forward to what is happening next on the island’ concluded the restaurant owner.

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